Why can't I get a proper curd to form
Hello all, new here, and definitely new to cheese making.
I've been interested in making my own mozzarella for a long time but recently finally decided to give it a try. I've spent more money than I'd like to admit over the last month on many many failed attempts.
First I started off trying Junket rennet, which as everyone here knows, despite having cheese recipes in the box, doesn't work at all. After that I ordered vegetable rennet tablets from cheesemaking.com.
I'm going to go over my entire process and ingredients to see if anything I'm doing is wrong, I don't blame you if you don't want to read it all. :cross:
As stated the rennet I use is tablet form, from the New England Cheese Making Supply Company.
The citric acid I use is Ball brand, found in the canning section of Wal-Mart.
I use Aquafina bottled water for mixing the citric acid and rennet.
I don't use calcium chloride because cheesemaking.com says don't use it for mozzarella.
As for the milk, I was sure that was my problem, I've tried Publix store brand, Wal-Mart store brand and Winn Dixie store brand. Each time the milk has failed to form a solid enough curd, even after 2 hours of setting time there was no clean break. None of them were UP afaik, at least they only said pasteurized.
After failing with those milks I saw the instant powdered milk + cream recipe on cheesemaking.com which specifically stated it was for people who couldn't find good milk. So naturally I tried this next with the same results, no clean break, curds so soft and thin they actually go right through cheesecloth.
Here is my exact process:
1)mix 1 1/2 tsp citric acid with 1/2 cup water til dissolved, put in empty pot.
2)pour milk over quickly while stirring
3)slowly bring milk to 90 degrees F while stirring over med-low heat
4)dissolve 1/4 tablet rennet in 1/4 cup water, I do this by shaking it in a water bottle til dissolved.
5)add rennet to milk and stir upwards for 30 seconds
6)remove from heat and place in warm water bath and do not disturb
cheesemaking.com claims a clean break should happen in 5-10 minutes, I have let it sit for up to 2 hours with no success.
I've made mozzarella three times now, one of which was an attempt with those instructions. Guess which time I failed? I'd say follow that recipe with these changes:
If you're using a half gallon of milk, use half of a rennet tablet. If you're using a gallon, use a full tablet. The rennet amount seemed to make a huge difference.
Also, I'd wait more than 5 minutes. It takes about 15 to 20 before I'm in clean break territory. After I get a clean break, I turn them into 1 inch cubes, wait 5 minutes and then slowly increase the temperature to 108 degrees.
Once it hits 108, I cut the temperature and let it sit for about 20 to 30 minutes. That will allow the whey to continue to precipitate out of the curd(to my understanding).
Then go about draining the curd/whey mixture.
Working the cheese:
Personally, I use the microwave to hit that 135 degree range before I start working the cheese. I'd like to use the briney water bath method though.
Tip: once you get to the stage where you're working the mozz, make sure you do not over work it! I'd recommend picking up the mozz and let it collapse onto itself in your other hand and then repeat. Then lightly kneed it..then be done with it! You'll know you've made delicious mozzarella when it is shiny and has no lumps. Then, I request you send me half of it for inspection!
Tell me how you fair with that. It seems to be a pretty forgiving cheese to make. I forgot to dissolve my citric acid into the water on my third attempt(I just threw it in the milk) and it was my best cheese by far. Not implying that my mistake made the difference!
Thanks for the reply.
Since posting this I have made it once successfully and haven't tried again since. Even though it came out great when I made it, the next day after being in the fridge it was very tough.
Also I used a crock pot on low for the water bath, seemed to be just the right temperature and I'm surprised I haven't seen anyone else talk about using one.
Next time I'll try more rennet like you suggested, maybe Thanksgiving.
I used the citric acid from the canning section also with mixed results, but I noticed that it has added ingredients - it's not pure citric acid. I've tried regular store bought milk, organic pasteurized (but not homogenized - it still had cream on the top), combos of powdered milk + cream + regular milk, microwave heating vs. heating in a water batch, tried extra rennet, and I've yet to get a decent result. I've either gotten ricotta, rubber, or nothing. I also purchased some "pure" citric acid on Amazon, and the attempt using that was actually the worst results, but I think I may have forgotten to half the CA as I was only using 1 gallon of milk.
I have some lovely homegrown tomatoes that I'd love to pair with some homemade mozzarella, but I'm about giving up on mozzarella at this point and trying some other cheeses instead.
1) Do you have a decent thermometer, one that you can safely rely on?
2) Are you using vegetable rennet?
3) Are you using whole milk?
4) What recipe are you using?
5) What temps are you heating the milk to?
6) Is the water you're using chlorinated?
7) Are you using a nonreactive pot?
After getting a little more mozzarella making experience under my belt, I can safely say the milk is the most crucial part of making mozz. Organic milk, to my understanding, is typically least favored because they generally pasteurize either at a) higher temperatures or b) for longer time periods, rendering it more difficult to make good mozzarella with. I have found that local milk is the best(though there are still some local milks that just don't form good curd) so experiment with different ones. Your "big box" store brands are not very good for mozz making for the same reasons that organic milk is not very suitable for making mozz...higher heat/longer times.
I know it seems silly, but ever since I started stirring in the rennet with an "up and down motion" I have been able to consistently get a "custard-like" curd formation within 5 minutes. I use to NEVER get this consistency before!
A good way to get a nonrubbery mozz is not to overstretch your cheese. I like to heat it to an internal temp of at least 135, pick it up and let it fall into my other hand. Then I lightly stretch it a few times, knead it and put it in just below room temp water.
The new recipe I use is:
1.5 tsp of citric acid
1/4 tab of rennet
1 gallon of milk
Put your citric acid in your pot and pour a 1/4 of water over it, dissolve. Pour milk over citric acid(I like to use milk that's between 50 and 60 degrees for this stage). Stir well and bring it to 90 degrees over the course of about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring on occasion.
Dissolve the 1/4 tab of rennet in a 1 cup of water. Once milk reaches 90, remove from burner and stir in your rennet for 30 seconds with the "up and down" motion. Use your stir spoon to stop the circulating milk and cover. Check curd formation after 5 minutes. If it's custard-like and gives you a "clean break", then cut one inch cubes into the curd. If there is no clean break or it's not custard-like, don't sweat it. Just cover and give it another 5 minutes and see if it's ready then. Let the cut curd rest for 5 minutes undisturbed!
Over the course of about 10 to 15 minutes, bring pot up to 105 degrees..no higher then 110. Once curd has reached desired temperature, drain and begin working the mozz.
^Once cubed, it's tough to get an accurate temperature for me. Seriously, it will bounce around a lot because I think there are a lot of heat pockets between curds. The best way to combat this is to use an appropriate sized pot, and as it is getting close to the desired temperature, slowly and constantly stir it to distribute heat. Try to keep the curds intact if you can!
Hope this helps
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